Why Steven Spielberg's Restaurant Dive! Didn't Survive

Steven Spielberg is an exceptionally successful director. From the iconic movie E.T. to the adventure-filled Indiana Jones franchise to the patriotic Saving Private Ryan and the fantasy-fueled Ready Player One, and all the many movies in between, Spielberg has made us feel a part of an incredible number of stories through the cinema experience. But while he and his films have been met with many accolades, it might surprise you to learn that one of his ventures did not rise like his others. If you have any recollection of when celebrity-backed and themed restaurants were all the rage in the 1990s – think Planet Hollywood, Fashion Cafe, Hard Rock Cafe, House of Blues, and Kenny Rogers Roasters – you might recall that Spielberg partnered up with Jeffrey Katzenberg to open a submarine-themed restaurant called Dive! 

Per Mental Floss, Spielberg has always had a love of the sea which we first saw come to life with the movie Jaws. (Raise your hand if you still can't enter a body of water without hearing that music.) Spielberg clearly had big expectations for Dive!, sinking $7 million into building his first location at the Century City Mall in California and planning for ultimately more than 60 Dive! eateries around the globe. So why did it flounder and fail?

Profits didn't surface at Dive!

The concept of the restaurant was seemingly innovative. The outside of the restaurant resembled the front hull of a submarine and extended over the wall near the stairs that led to the mall shops. Designers chose to make it yellow, which also conjured up some Beatles vibes. Mental Floss notes that the interior of the restaurant was also an homage to the submersible water vehicle, complete with portholes and torpedo-shaped bar stools. Every 45 minutes, flashing lights activated, and the portholes would fill with water to make diners feel like they were submerging. 

According to the Los Angeles Times, there was even a cool periscope that allowed diners to get quite the view of Santa Monica Boulevard, but that was really the only cool thing about this restaurant. The reviewer noted that some of the food she tried was overcooked, and the dipping sauces for the French fries and onion rings were nothing to write home about. Not to mention, the surroundings sounded like a recipe for sensory overload. Mental Floss went on to say that most themed restaurants made their money off of merchandise and Dive! in Century City was simply unable to keep pace. The combination of subpar food and humdrum merch sales led to Dive! being labeled a flop and closing in 1999. And while the restaurant in Las Vegas experienced better success with merchandise sales, it eventually suffered the same fate.